Actually, the Dish went out and interviewed eight of the leading obstetricians in the country and laid out all the facts of the case and asked the experts for their take. While none would say that this pregnancy could not have happened, and none would comment on a case they hadn't examined personally, all of them said it was one of the strangest and unlikeliest series of events they had ever heard of and found Palin's decision to forgo medical help for more than a day after her water broke and risk the life of her unborn child on a long airplane trip to be reckless beyond measure.Sullivan cannot turn around and claim that the vice presidency is a major office and that we need someone strong in that role after he argued tonight that Vice President Cheney was effectively president. Either the Vice Presidency has a very limited role or it's an important job. It cannot be both. And if the Democrats are going to reassert some "constitutional order" as he claimed tonight -- one one wonders just what the whole fiscal stimulus was about then!-- then wouldn't you want your Vice President just to go to funerals and preside over the Senate?
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I must say I'm quite relieved that Jesse Blumenthal CMC '11 and Ian Johnson CMC '09 did not let Imad Moustapha off the hook and prodded him respectfully with rather tough questions. Bravo, gentlemen, you represented Claremont McKenna at her best. Though I could have done without the sycophantic question about how the U.S. could help Syria achieve peace. Sometimes I really wonder about this college.
"Here in the U.S., is a powerful pro-Israel lobby," Moustapha said. "These are observations among anti-Syrian circles. They are baseless ... We in Syria believe it serves our national interest to find the truth of that terrible crime."
[NOTE: I just found Jesse Blumenthal's own response to the Ambassador posted on the CMC Forum website. Please check it out here.]
The Syrian Ambassador, Imad Moustapha, spoke (read: lied) at the Athenaeum last night -- and he's very good at what he does. He used the asymmetry of information to paint a picture of urban myths that Americans have about Syria and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I challenge everyone who was at the Athenaeum to make good on his suggestion to learn the facts. I'm sure you'll discover how the illustrious Ambassador was lying through his teeth at the Ath.
First off, hats off to Jesse Blumenthal '11 for challenging the Ambassador on the plutonium processing facility that the Israelis raided last year. The Ambassador, assuming Jesse wouldn't have the access to information that he had or that he simply wouldn't know the facts, said that not a single Israeli claimed that the plant they bombed was for processing plutonium, and that it was all merely an invention of the United States. Jesse ingeniously whipped out his I-Phone, and found this article from the Times of London, no less, which proved the Ambassador wrong! Thankfully, the Ath fellow allowed Jesse to counter the Ambassador's disingenuous answer, after which the Ambassador said he didn't want to get into a "petty" back-and-forth. The only thing petty about the whole matter was his deceit and refusal to confront the facts. Here's an excerpt from the Times article:
"ISRAEL’S top-secret air raid on Syria in September destroyed a bomb factory assembling warheads fuelled by North Korean plutonium, a leading Israeli nuclear expert has told The Sunday Times. Professor Uzi Even of Tel Aviv University was one of the founders of the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona, the source of the Jewish state’s undeclared nuclear arsenal. “I suspect that it was a plant for processing plutonium, namely, a factory for assembling the bomb,” he said. “I think the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] transferred to Syria weapons-grade plutonium in raw form, that is nuggets of easily transported metal in protective cans. I think the shaping and casting of the plutonium was supposed to be in Syria.”
Furthermore, after speaking to Professor Ed Haley today about the talk, I've decided to look back at the IAEA report which he said proved that there was no plutonium. As it turns out, the IAEA report was not only inconclusive regarding the existence of a nuclear plant, but it was suspicious that Syria's facility did in fact appear to be one! That's right -- the Ambassador was out-right lying. Check out the facts here from the Los Angeles Times:
"An investigation into a remote Syrian site bombed by Israel 14 months ago has provided no conclusive answers so far, but sparked speculation about the source of trace amounts of radioactive material found at the site. A report published Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency said satellite imagery from the location near Dair Alzour suggested that the construction site “appears to have been similar” to the layout of a nuclear reactor. Syria and Iran have both failed to cooperate fully with international inspectors, the U.N. agency said in a pair of reports delivered to its governing board. Tehran is slowly but steadily increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium and preparing thousands more machines to ramp up its nuclear capacity, which Iran insists is only meant to produce energy."
Putting aside the fact that the Ambassador refused to answer a question from Ian Johnson '09 about whether Syria was supporting insurgent who were killing U.S. troops in Iraq, another thing the Ambassador lied about was the negotiation between Arafat and Ehud Barak about the Oslo Peace Accords. An astute questioner asked if the Arabs really did want all the territories back for peace as he claimed, why did they not accept the year 2000 offer to return to the Palestinian some 90% of the disputed territories? The Ambassador once again lied, saying that there was never such an offer, that it was another "Urban Myth." He used Robert Malley's (he was a Clinton official involved in the talks) famous article in the New York Review of Books, "Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors," which you can read yourself here, which the Ambassador claimed proved that there was no offer. In fact, the article says nothing of the sort! In the article, he actually explores "why what so many viewed as a generous Israeli offer, the Palestinians viewed as neither generous, nor Israeli, nor, indeed, as an offer." So what's his actual conclusions?
I quote the essential elements from the beginning, but one really should read the whole thing:
The better route, he thought, was to present all concessions and all rewards in one comprehensive package that the Israeli public would be asked to accept in a national referendum. Oslo was being turned on its head. It had been a wager on success—a blank check signed by two sides willing to take difficult preliminary steps in the expectation that they would reach an agreement. Barak's approach was a hedge against failure—a reluctance to make preliminary concessions out of fear that they might not.
Much the same can be said about Israel's expansion of the West Bank settlements, which proceeded at a rapid pace. Barak saw no reason to needlessly alienate the settler constituency. Moreover, insofar as new housing units were being established on land that Israel ultimately would annex under a permanent deal—at least any permanent deal Barak would sign—he saw no harm to the Palestinians in permitting such construction. In other words, Barak's single-minded focus on the big picture only magnified in his eyes the significance—and cost—of the small steps. Precisely because he was willing to move a great distance in a final agreement (on territory or on Jerusalem, for example), he was unwilling to move an inch in the preamble (prisoners, settlements, troop redeployment, Jerusalem villages).
Barak's principles also shed light on his all-or-nothing approach. In Barak's mind, Arafat had to be made to understand that there was no "third way," no "reversion to the interim approach," but rather a corridor leading either to an agreement or to confrontation.
[...I'm skipping now to way down in the article...]
The final and largely unnoticed consequence of Barak's approach is that, strictly speaking, there never was an Israeli offer. Determined to preserve Israel's position in the event of failure, and resolved not to let the Palestinians take advantage of one-sided compromises, the Israelis always stopped one, if not several, steps short of a proposal. The ideas put forward at Camp David were never stated in writing, but orally conveyed. They generally were presented as US concepts, not Israeli ones; indeed, despite having demanded the opportunity to negotiate face to face with Arafat, Barak refused to hold any substantive meeting with him at Camp David out of fear that the Palestinian leader would seek to put Israeli concessions on the record. Nor were the proposals detailed. If written down, the American ideas at Camp David would have covered no more than a few pages. Barak and the Americans insisted that Arafat accept them as general "bases for negotiations" before launching into more rigorous negotiations.
According to those "bases," Palestine would have sovereignty over 91 percent of the West Bank; Israel would annex 9 percent of the West Bank and, in exchange, Palestine would have sovereignty over parts of pre-1967 Israel equivalent to 1 percent of the West Bank, but with no indication of where either would be. On the highly sensitive issue of refugees, the proposal spoke only of a "satisfactory solution." Even on Jerusalem, where the most detail was provided, many blanks remained to be filled in. Arafat was told that Palestine would have sovereignty over the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, but only a loosely defined "permanent custodianship" over the Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam. The status of the rest of the city would fluctuate between Palestinian sovereignty and functional autonomy. Finally, Barak was careful not to accept anything. His statements about positions he could support were conditional, couched as a willingness to negotiate on the basis of the US proposals so long as Arafat did the same.
Thus, it is clear that the Ambassador was simply lying. Malley was criticizing Barak for not agreeing to interim steps, which Barak naturally (and with good reason) felt might lead to Israeli concessions but without a final agreement. Malley was also criticizing Barak for being vague on some counts and not putting the agreement in writing, and also his political maneuvering (to deal with domestic politics). But the fact is, the land was offered, and Arafat refused it -- and the rigmaroles of the process allowed Arafat, and now the Syrian Ambassador, to lie about it and seize those minor issues of process as excuses not to accept the generous offer.
Malley's article does provide a wealth of information of how this can be avoided in the future, and his criticism is noteworthy -- I don't mean to completely throw his arguments out. I am merely pointing out that Imad Moustapha lied to us. He twisted and manipulated specific elements of Malley's piece. Read the rest of Malley's article, I insist.
[Update: I just found in the New York Review of Books TWO responses to Malley's original piece -- one with an interview of Ehud Barak himself, and the other from the head of the Clinton peace team. As it turns out, Moustapha really was stretching the truth; that's what happens when you rely only on one side of the story, and twist it at that. Read the responses here and here.]
The Syrian Ambassador was right about one thing -- many times Americans, and us students, don't have all the facts at hand. We don't read enough. It is the job of the Syrian Ambassador, however, to learn this stuff day in and day out so he can spin it to make the Israelis and the United States look bad and the Arab world look good. So I do urge everyone who was at the Athenaeum to do their own reading. And as long as Syria sends ambassadors such as Imad Moustapha, they continue to prove that they are not interested in peace in the Middle East. The reality is more complicated than Israel is all to blame or the Arabs are all to blame.
Peace in the Middle East can't happen as long as individuals such as the Syrian Ambassador play fast and loose with the facts. And Claremont students shouldn't buy a single thing he said yesterday. There will be another talk on the Israel-Palestine conflict, this time by Efraim Inbar, an Israeli conservative, at the Ath on February 11. I encourage anyone who was at the Athenaeum last night to get both sides of the story -- but they should equally challenge Mr. Inbar. No side has a monopoly on the truth, and it is everyone's job to question and challenge every speaker.
Behold, the economists who disagree with the new, supposed Keynesian consensus! The paid advertisement was sponsored by the Cato Institute, ran in the New York Times, and was signed by CMC professor, Richard Burdekin. Aditya, Sam, and I are all in Richard Burdekin's Macroeconomics class right now. Without a doubt, it is one of my favorite classes that I have taken at Claremont.
Here it is below. I have truncated the names so that you might see only the one that is most relevant to us.
Jan 27, 2009
"There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy." — Presiden-elect Barack Obama, January 9, 2009
Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance.
More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.
MICHAEL BORDO, Rutgers University
SAMUEL BOSTAPH, Univ. of Dallas
SCOTT BRADFORD, Brigham Young University
GENEVIEVE BRIAND, Eastern Washington University
GEORGE BROWER, Moravian College
JAMES BUCHANAN, Nobel laureate
RICHARD BURDEKIN, Claremont McKenna College
HENRY BUTLER, Northwestern University
WILLIAM BUTOS, Trinity College
PETER CALCAGNO, College of Charleston
BRYAN CAPLAN, George Mason University